The BBC has appointed Rupert Miles, publishing director of Radio Times, to lead the attack on CompuServe and America On Line as a provider of online news and information services.
The new venture, called BBC Online, will tap into the corporation’s news, publishing and programming resources to provide information, either through the Internet or accessed directly.
BBC Online falls under the remit of BBC Worldwide New Media because the service will be part of the corporation’s commercial ventures. At present, CompuServe, the market leader, has 400,000 subscribers paying 6.50 a month.
Miles, who will be director of BBC Online, gained experience in new media while running Radio Times’ experiments with inter active listings as part of BT’s interactive TV trials in Norwich.
“We will tell the world what we’re up to very soon,” says Miles. “It is essentially about an environment that will complement all of the BBC’s current broadcasting and other ventures.”
The BBC closed down its previous Internet venture, the BBC Networking Club, last year because of a lack of subscribers. Industry sources believe the BBC’s interest in new media is prompted by the likely convergence of digital broadcasting with the Internet.
Nicholas Brett, editor of Radio Times, is to replace Miles as publishing director. A new editor for the listings magazine is being sought.